Coastal flood risks in China through the 21st century – An application of DIVA

Jiayi Fang, Daniel Lincke, Sally Brown, Robert J. Nicholls, Claudia Wolff, Jan-Ludolf Merkens, Jochen Hinkel, Athanasios T. Vafeidis, Peijun Shi, Min Liu

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China experiences frequent coastal flooding, with nearly US$ 77 billion of direct economic losses and over 7,000 fatalities reported from 1989 to 2014. Flood damages are likely to grow due to climate change induced sea-level rise and increasing exposure if no further adaptation measures are taken. This paper quantifies potential damage and adaptation costs of coastal flooding in China over the 21st Century, including the effects of sea-level rise. It develops and utilises a new, detailed coastal database of China developed within the Dynamic Interactive Vulnerability Assessment (DIVA) model framework. The refined database provides a more realistic spatial representation of coasts, with more than 2700 coastal segments, covering 28,966 km of coastline. Over 50% of China's coast is artificial, representing defended coast and/or claimed land. Coastal flood damage and adaptation costs for China are assessed for different Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) and Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSP) combinations representing climate change and socio-economic change and two adaptation strategies: no upgrade of currently existing defences and maintaining current protection levels. By 2100, 0.7–20.0 million people may be flooded/yr and US$ 67–3,308 billion damages/yr are projected without upgrade to defences. In contrast, maintaining the current protection level would reduce those numbers to 0.2–0.4 million people flooded/yr and US$ 22–60 billion/yr flood costs by 2100, with protection investment costs of US$ 8–17 billion/yr. In 2100, maintaining current protection levels, dikes costs are two orders of magnitude smaller than flood costs across all scenarios, even without accounting for indirect damages. This research improves on earlier national assessments of China by generating a wider range of projections, based on improved datasets. The information delivered in this study will help governments, policy-makers, insurance companies and local communities in China understand risks and design appropriate strategies to adapt to increasing coastal flood risk in an uncertain world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135311
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date20 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2020


  • China
  • Climate change impacts
  • Coastal flooding
  • Risk assessment
  • Sea level rise

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